Islamic Nations look to up the ante in their opposition to free speech re: Islam

I was disturbed though not surprised when I read Ed Brayton’s post today which reported that at a recent summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a group of 57 predominantly Muslim nations, discussion focused on how to eliminate criticism of Islam from around the world. The organization of Islamic nations discussed the possibility of taking legal actions to suppress “defamation of Islam”. The Muslim leaders are reported to be going so far as to attempt to demand redress from Denmark for the running of the cartoon caricatures of Mohammed in 2006 and again last month. As bases for their anti-free speech position, they are planning to cite the criminalization in Europe of Holocaust denial and other anti-Semitic rhetoric. They are also looking to articles in various UN charters that condemn religious discrimination, with plans of arguing for intensifying these policies.

This dogmatist tyranny is truly disgusting. We are living among people that are so dogmatically committed to their 2000 year old self-agrandizing mythology that they are willing to prioritize them over the rights of other people and the exchange of ideas. They are so polarized in their us-themism, their God fearing, and their moral self-righteousness, that they would suppress the freedom of others to criticize their cherished beliefs.

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Comments
35 Responses to “Islamic Nations look to up the ante in their opposition to free speech re: Islam”
  1. Mark says:

    And people still ask why “religion” is so wrong…

  2. Colin says:

    Mark,

    I agree with you. Religion causes many problems. Here is how I see it…

    1. People think “I am right and you are wrong.”
    2. Therefore I am better than you.
    3. Therefore I can marginalize you.
    4. Therefore, you become less than human.
    5. Therefore I can actively persecute you.
    …and the process feeds itself.

    However, Jesus teaches this…

    1. I am right and you are wrong.
    2. But, I am no better than you. In fact, I am likely in the exact same position as you or I am worse than you. (1 Timothy 1:12-15)
    3. Therefore I ought to show grace to you and serve you. (see Matthew 20:28)

    The path of grace and service as taught in the Bible stops the spiral of violence so commonly seen in Islam.

    I recognize full well that Christians often don’t live up to this standard, but you shouldn’t judge Christianity based on its heretics.

  3. Given the majority of Christians resemble 1-5 above more than 1-3, that seems to make you the heretic in the room.

  4. Mark says:

    Hi Colin,

    1. Thinking this is fine – as long as you are not dogmatic about it.
    2. I know a lot more Christians who exhibit this behaviour. Your quote from Timothy is laughable… did you read the versus before it?
    3. Another laughable comment from you. You pick a verse to back you up, but have you read the rest of the Bible? How about it’s marginalization of women?

    There are far more teachings of violence in the Bible than there are of grace – to deny this is to say you haven’t actually read the Bible.

    The Christians who don’t live up the standards of your pick-and-chose Bible verses is because they are reading the rest of the Bible and picking and choosing their own verses to follow.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  5. Colin says:

    Regarding Timothy, yes, I read the verses preceding 12-15, I fail to see any problems…Paul points out that there are false teachers who need to be stopped (and there still are…like Benny hinn) and he points out that there are evil people (and there still are, like me) and then he points out that he is the worst of all the sinners. Which is my point exactly. The Christian worldview, when it is properly understood, teaches humility and grace.

    Marginalization of women…nope. The teachings of Christ showed tremendous respect for women (the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery). In an age when women were little more than property, Jesus’ teachings and example were radically inclusive of women.

    Teachings of violence? Well, no. The pentateuch records the history of God teaching people about himself, primarily his holiness and his justice, but also his care for the poor and destitute, his patience, and his desire for just laws and just rulers.

    Some things to keep in mind.

    -the Pentateuch *describes* what happened in history. This does not mean that God commands 21st century Canadians to kill. It describes how God used the Israelites to judge the Canaanites who were an exceedingly brutal group of people. It also describes how God used the Babylonians to judge Israel.

    -The judgment of Canaan was an unusual circumstance.

    -the central message of Christianity is the grace of God as exemplified in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Does the Bible take a while to get there? Yes. But that does nothing to detract from the message.

    For a more complete discussion, see…

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5767

    It seems to me that your rejection of Christianity is based on misunderstandings of what Christianity actually teaches.

  6. Seems like it teaches the same BS rationalizations as any religion. Killing in the name of my god is OK. Killing in the name of your god, not so much. Exterminating an entire nation in my gods name (he had his reasons after all, and they had a chance to see it his way, but refused) is OK, same for your god, sorry, not today.

    Apparently in this fable, God commanded a genocide including the innocent children you are on about so much. The best your “reasonable faith” guy can come up with is “yeah, but they likely wound up in heaven, they were innocent after all”.

    What a load of crap. It just goes to show, you can accommodate almost any atrocity if you believe some dogma BS. What Christianity teaches is that irrational beliefs based on fictional writings lead to nonsensical behaviour.

  7. Colin says:

    TBM,

    I know we will never come to an agreement here, but you speak as if God has some sort of moral obligation to us, which is not true at all. God is not morally obliged to anyone. He has absolutely no obligation to prolong the life of anyone. He can do whatever he wants.

    Cheers.

  8. Well, god has no obligation in the way Fred Flinstone has no obligation, he is a figment of your imagination.

    If you are saying you’ve let go of the omni-benevolent aspect of god that is typically part of the Christian story, fair enough. I think you’d be back in heretic territory on that one though.

    If you are proposing some kind of old testament ass kicking burning bush god, show me the bush and we’ll talk.

  9. Colin says:

    I think there is sufficient evidence in the OT that God is good. You are obviously not convinced by that and I doubt you have looked for it.

    That the record shows that he occasionally kicks ass is beyond dispute. The problem for some is that the same record says that he’s going to do it again, and not even Chuck Norris can stop him.

    As for a burning bush, Paris Hilton may have one…other than that, I can’t see that as being a productive conversation.

  10. Mark says:

    Colin,

    I don’t have the time for full rebute of your statements, I’ll try later, but for now some quick comments:
    – story of women at the well – wasn’t teaaching of Jesus… look it up, it was a story ADDED to the Bible by scribes much later. Check your NIV study Bible’s notes, or just do some real research.
    – Re God is good (ie. in OT) / teachings of violence / God can do what he wants, please read Bart Erhman’s new book “God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question–Why We Suffer”. I’d be most interested in your comments.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  11. Stoobs says:

    The anti-women stuff was mostly added to the bible after Jesus’ death, by Paul (I think – it’s early, and I’m hazy)… Who was not Jesus’ chosen successor.

    Of course, for every line Jesus speaks about bringing peace and understanding, he also speaks one about bringing war and division.

    As for god having no moral obligations – the beautiful thing about objective morality is that it applies to absolutely everyone equally – that’s what makes it objective. If it doesn’t apply to god, it’s not morality, it’s just arbitrary orders given by a dictatorial bully. If it does apply to god, then given that he does a pretty shitty job of following it, despite being both omnipotent and omniscient, I don’t see how we mere humans can be held to a higher standard.

    Basically, if god exists, he’s a fucking jerk, a high-school bully on cosmic steroids, and I don’t much care for him. Luckily, he’s logically impossible, which is good, because it’s a lot easier to avoid anger and hatred (the only rational response to the god described in the bible) when the presumptive target is mindless impersonal forces.

  12. Colin says:

    Mark,

    As usual, when a skeptic has a challenge about a passage in the Bible, I look it up. And as usual the skeptic has nothing to stand on.

    The story of the woman at the well is in John 4. There is no mention of the story being added later in my Bible or in any of the commentaries I consulted. There is a brief mention of the *previous* six verses not being included by some translators. Those six verses are totally unrelated to the story of the samaritan woman. Your challenge fails to stand up to even a cursory glance at what the Bible actually teaches.

    Bart Ehrman is a good writer and scholar although I have not personally read his books. I do know that he comes to some conclusions that diverge significantly from orthodox Christianity, putting him in a tiny minority of Biblical scholars. Kinda like the Jesus Seminar, except he is intelligent. I will take a look.

    Stoobs…a little grumpy this morning?

    Your first sentence…about Paul adding to the Bible after Jesus death. Where to start? Paul wrote a good chunk of what constitutes the NT. The Bible didn’t exist when Paul was alive. How could he have added something to the Bible before it existed. And again, within the context of first century Palestine, the message of the NT is radically inclusive of women.

    Your statement about Jesus bringing war and division…take a look in a Bible, preferably a red letter edition. Find the synoptic gospels and have a read. The red writing indicates Jesus’ words. It should be easy to back up your statement…good luck with that.

    God’s moral obligations…

    God’s commands constitute our moral obligations and they are grounded in his character. The fact that they are grounded in his character means that they are objective. The fact that they are commands or instructions to us is also meaningful because God doesn’t command himself to do anything. As creator of the universe, he can do whatever he wants.

    If you own a car, you would be permitted to take that car apart and give the pieces away to friends. You would be permitted to destroy it. It is yours, you can do with it what you want. But if I tried to destroy your car, you would be within your rights to stop me because it is not my car. You have no moral obligations to your car. I do have a moral obligation to not destroy your car.

    Same goes for God. He ‘owns’ the universe. He can do whatever he wants with it.

    God has no moral obligations.

    I realize that you do not agree with the premises of my statement (that God exists/created/owns the universe), but if you want to criticize the Christian view, you should at least criticize *what the Christian view actually is*, rather than your own little straw man.

  13. Mark says:

    Colin,

    Sorry, I meant to say the story of Jesus and the women taken in adultery (John 7:53-8:12) – the other story you mentioned – which is arguably the best-known story about Jesus in the Bible. I don’t know about you, but I can’t count the number of times this story was used in sermons I’ve heard.

    I’ll be interested in your feedback on Ehrman.

    The three main issues which led me from my Christian faith:
    1) Too many things in the Bible I just couldn’t agree with. I’ve read and study the apologetics, it just doesn’t wash with me.
    2) The existance of an omniscient omnipotent omnipresent God does not match what I experience or see experienced in this world.
    3) The dogma of religion.

    I understand your defence of Christianity. I used to be there too. Really, I get it. But I just don’t buy it anymore. Besides, it shouldn’t take a Bible scholar to explain things. If there was a God, it would have provided a book which was more clear for mere humans. The more I thought about it, the less realistic it was to me. Like Hindusim is to you.

    The Bible to me is exactly what you expect to read of an ancient text from antiquity that grew out of an era of superstition and complete lack of understanding of so many things, including basics such as solar system, planetary weather, the science of germs and disease, etc.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  14. Colin says:

    Mark,

    Thanks for clarifying.

    The story of the adulterous woman was not contained in the earliest manuscripts. But what does that prove?

    It doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t radically elevate the status of women in his day. It changes nothing regarding the life and teachings or the death and resurrection of Jesus.

    Most challenges to the Bible are either misunderstandings or the challenger grossly inflates the implications of the difficulty.

    I know that you are unconvinced and that you have made your decision and I respect that. I appreciate your civility.

    Regards,
    Colin

  15. Back up a bit, as far as I know, the Bible is a bunch of fictional stories written well after Jesus reportedly lived and died. There is little to no actual historical evidence that he even existed, compared to other figures from the same time. His story seems more like a compilation for the popular myths of the day, repackaged by a few zealots who never actually knew him.

    So, given that there is no good evidence that Jesus really existed, let alone did or said any of those things, why would you believe any of it was true?

    Most challenges to the Bible seem to be made by uniformed people who give it too much credit as actually describing real events, rather than being a book of fables.

  16. Colin says:

    “Back up a bit, as far as I know, the Bible is a bunch of fictional stories written well after Jesus reportedly lived and died. ”

    Apparently you don’t know very far.

    The gospels were written by eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life. Matthew was written between 60-65AD, Mark between 55-65 AD, Luke about 60AD and John a little later at 85-90 AD.

    Jesus was crucified in AD 30 which means the synoptic Gospels were written by eyewitnesses within 20-30 years of his death and John within 60 years. This is not nearly long enough for any legends to have developed as it would have been very easy to check the reliability of the text just by asking the guy down the street who was there and is named in the text.

    Other than the early writing and thousands of copies that we have, there are other criteria that can help us determine whether or not the text itself is historically accurate.

    For a detailed explanation of why the gospels are historically accurate, see,

    http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/crj_recentperspectives/crj_recentperspectives.htm

    Or pick up a copy of F.F. Bruce’s, “The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?”

    Regards,
    Colin

  17. Mark says:

    Hi Colin,

    Even if the historical record offered multiple, first-hand accounts of his miracles, this would not constitute sufficient support for the basic claims of Christianity. First-hand reports of miracles are a dime a dozen, even in the 21st century. Many spiritual seekers in India testify to miracles performed by their gurus on a daily basis. These miracles are every bit as outlandish as the miracles attributed to Jesus. I remain open to evidence of such powers but as far as I can tell, all of these stories are promulgated by people who desperately want to believe them; all (to my knowledge) lack the kind of corroborating evidence one should require to actually believe that Nature’s laws have been abrogated in this way; and most people who report these events demonstrate an utter disinclination to look for non-miraculous explanations. In any case, stories about mystics (and charlatans) walking on water, raising the dead, flying without the aid of technology, materializing objects, reading minds, foretelling the future, etc., are being told now. Indeed, all of these powers have been attributed to the South Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba by an uncountable number of eyewitnesses – and the man claims to have been born of a virgin to boot! He has literally millions of followers, many of them educated westerners. You can watch some of his “miracles” on YouTube, performed before credulous throngs of spiritually hungry souls. Prepare to be underwhelmed. And yet, Christians suggest that tales of similar events emerging from the pre-scientific religious milieu of the 1st century Roman Empire (decades after their supposed occurrence) are especially credible. Even checkout the BBC Special – Secret Swami – About Sai Baba – search for it on Google Video.

    Colin – I’m sure I said this to you before on a previous thread: Jesus’ birth from a virgin and his rising from the dead was nothing special, it was a common attribute of millennia old heroes. The fact that there is no verifiable evidence that any human has ever been born from a virgin or risen from the dead should raise our suspicions on this even further. The additional fact that all the accounts of Jesus’ birth and death in the Bible are full of holes and contradictions should make us even more suspicious. Consider the prophecy of Jesus’ coming (Mic. 5:2). We have no reason outside of the New Testament to believe that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. History does not support Luke’s Christmas story about a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the Roman world was required to go to their place of origin to be “taxed” (KVJ) or “enrolled” (RSV). Surely such a vast undertaking would have been recorded. History does not record a census affecting only Judea and not Galilee, but this took place in 6-7 CE, which conflicts with the fact that Jesus was supposedly born in the days of Herod, who died in 4 BCE.

    And I’m sure we previously discussed in another thread the geneology of Christ, that the Gospel of Mathew begins with a genealogy which 1 Tim 1:4 and Tit 3:9 tells us to avoid. The genealogy lists 41 generations from Abraham to Jesus, then immediately says there are 42 generations. There are 28 generations listed from David to Jesus in Matthew, while in Luke there are 43 – and to make matters even more suspicious – except for David at one end and Jesus at the other, there are only three names in the two lists that are the same. Additionally Matthew says that Jesus descended from David’s son Solomon, while Luke says it was David’s son Nathan.

    I think you argued that one list was his mother and one his fater… this to me is nonsense… there is nothing to support this claim.

    How about this list of contradictions on Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection?
    http://web.archive.org/web/20060615170331/http://www.outreachjudaism.org/crucifix.html

    Here is my understanding of Bible history:

    The Bible is a collection of documents written over a time span of more than 600 years, although some of the content of the Old Testament had circulated for centuries in earlier religious traditions. Every piece of the Bible existed in some form as an independent document before it found its way into the Holy Book. Pieces of text written at different times circulated separately from each other. Experts argued (and still do today) about which texts should be in and which ones should not. The canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures was left largely in the hands of Jewish scholars, while Christian authorities made decisions about the collection of writings that would eventually become the New Testament. Furthermore, many Old Testament stories and legal codes are inherited from cultures that inhabited the Middle East at the time that the tribes of the Hebrews emerged. For example, the story of the Great Flood appears in the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, an Akkadian religious text that pre-dates the time of Moses. Additionally, the creation story of Genesis parallels the creation myth of the ancient Babylonians.

    Furthermore, there is no “original” Bible, that is to say, there are no original copies of any of the books of the Bible, and the New Testament did not just show up shortly after Jesus’ death. What exists are thousands and thousands of differing copies of the texts, which in themselves are made from copies which no longer exist. In other words, we don’t have copies of the copies of the originals, or even copies of the copies of the copies. What we have are copies made much later, and in most instances, they are copies made many centuries later. Moreover, none of these copies is completely accurate, since the scribes who produced them inadvertently and/or intentionally changed them in places. There are more differences among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament. Most of these differences are completely immaterial and insignificant, but many are not. This is to say, that the Bible is full of human error, created by fallible humans. The Bible is a very human book.

    Given that we know there are errors and changes in the texts, believing the Bible was inspired by God raises many questions. If the scriptures were inspired by God, did God let his inspired word, which is the the foundation and only way to learn of his teachings, become a text full of errors which was eventually bundled as the Bible we know today? On the other hand, if portions of the Bible are not the inspired word of God, then how does one determine which scriptures are inspired and which are not? Are the churches which implement strict orderly rule and do not allow women to speak in Church better at following God’s Law and following an inspired scripture?

    Also, speaking of Bart Ehrman from previous posts, perhaps you also want to read his earlier book “Misquoting Jesus” – again, I’d be sincerely interested in your review of it.

    I could go on all night about how contorted these supposed ‘eyewitness’ accounts were.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  18. Well, I guess that should be the first point of dispute then. From what I read, the evidence is completely to the contrary. Writings from the time of Christ’s purported life don’t mention him and the so called gospels are anything but, having been edited, re-edited and changed according to the whim of whoever needed them to make a convenient point. Until you can provide a meaningful academic reference to the contrary from an actual neutral historian, no game. It’s a bunch of fables.

  19. Colin says:

    http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/crj_recentperspectives/crj_recentperspectives.htm

    If you had bothered to read it you would know that it is focussed primarily on the methods used by *critical* scholars to evaluate the historicity of the gospels.

    Critical scholars are quoted extensively throughout the article.

    If you want credible scholarship, who do you talk to? You talk to an expert in the field.

    If I want information about natural selection, I go the the evolutionary biology department. If I want information about psychology, I go to the Psych dept. If you want info about the New Testament, you talk to a NT scholar.

    If you want an opposite opinion, you talk to a critic. I suggest that you do both. You have the opinions of people who are most likely committed a priori to the unreliability of the gospels. Maybe you should get the whole picture before you make such rash judgments.

    Nobody is neutral.

    As far as changes that have been made…of the approximately 138,000 words in the New Testament only about 1,400 remain in doubt. The text of the New Testament is about 99.9% pure in regards to being true to the originals. The remaining 0.1% involve nothing of any significance in regards to central doctrines. Nice try.

  20. You link confirms that there is really no proof for the historical accuracy of the Bible. All that is needed is confirmation of significant amounts of the events of the new testament contained in non-Christian texts from the time period. The article alludes to this as maybe existing and then goes back to the usual blather about internal consistency between a bunch of authors who likely plagiarized each other.

    If there is and real consensus as to the historical accuracy of Biblical descriptions, I should be able to find any number of historians who agree. Presumably, scholars of ancient history would be interested in a document that described important events from ancient history and was verifiable. Why is it only the Christian apologists who make the claim that the Bible is actual history?

    From what I read, some of the events in the old testament can be verified through non-biblical writings. The new testament doesn’t hold up nearly so well.

    The Bible has been around a while and has been scrutinized a fair amount. Historical figures from that time frame (Plato, Aristotle, etc.) are widely accepted as having existed. There is no debate as to whether these people were real or whether they said or did the things attributed to them. Why is it that someone as important as Jesus can’t be so easily verified as having existed? How is it that Jesus slipped through history without having been noticed when lesser figures left all kinds of evidence behind?

    Until you can point to a general consensus of historical scholars that agree the the claim that large chunks of the Bible can be historically verified in some objective way that doesn’t just refer back to the Bible itself, you have a book full of fables. It’s pretty simple, if someone hands you a book full of stories about things that sound as if they couldn’t possibly have happened, and there is no proof other than that book of stories, it’s fiction.

    To quote Judge Judy, “If something doesn’t make sense, it isn’t true.”

  21. Mark says:

    Colin, I’m interested in what is your response to the first paragraph in my previous post?

  22. Colin,

    Seriously, the more I look at the nonsense link you posted the more convinced I am that there is no evidence for the Bible at all. I just asked for any credible scholarly claim that the Bible has some amount of verifiable historical content. You posted link to and article written by a Christian apologist which was published in a journal sponsored by a Christian apologist organization with no academic affiliation to a real university at all.

    Where is the evidence for the Bible that a credible historical scholar from a real university would acknowledge?

  23. Mark says:

    Colin – also, if the NT is so accurate, how do you explain the contradictions? I provided a link in my previous post.

    Also, wrt to accuracy, do you believe Matthew 27:52-53? I’m sorry, I just can’t buy the fact that tombs broke open and the actual ‘bodies’ were raised to life, and they went into town and appeared to many people. I’m sorry Colin, but this is an example of something I just can’t buy… it just doesn’t wash with me.

    Also, what your opinion on many of the OT teachings that there is no life after death?… Ecclesiastes is one of the many books to find this in.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  24. Stoobs says:

    Colin – 1) I did not say that Paul added to the bible, though if I had my meaning would have been clear, and you would be attacking a clear straw man in any case. I said that he is responsible for much of the misogyny found therein, and that Peter, not Paul, was the one tagged my Jesus to found his church.

    2) A car is not a sentient being. Now, if you were willing to make the same argument about my cat – that I have the right to pull it apart and play with the pieces – then you would at least be consistent – but in any case totally ridiculous. You are making an argument founded on property rights? So your position is that we are slaves, and that morality is determined by the whims of our master, which is ‘objective’ (you clearly don’t know what the word means) because it is how our master feels. Again, your position is the equivalent to saying that people have the right to torture their pets for fun, because the pet belongs to them. Indeed, given your view of property rights, and god giving man dominion over all the animals, you are logically committed to the position that cruelty to animals is completely acceptable.

    Objective reality applies to everything, full stop. There is no, it’s objective because blah, unless blah is “because it applies to everything equally and perfectly.” If god is excluded from the need to behave morally – if the rules are different for him than for everyone else – then morality is not objective, it is arbitrary, based on the whims of a cosmic tyrant.

    The only thing saving you from advocating all manner of horror upon Earth is that you do not seem capable of following your premises to their logical conclusions.

    As for quotes of Jesus advocating violence and generally being a jerk…

    “Brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” Matthew 10:21

    “I have come not to send peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34

    That took me minutes to find, without half trying. There’s plenty more where that comes from.

  25. Eddie says:

    I don’t really care about the detail of the Minotaur story or other fictional characters so maybe my comments are out of place, but think that the action of this group to ban the criticism of Islam will wind up having a positive effect. For one it may get rid of Europe’s bullshit law on the holocaust etc. Also, it will call attention to the fact Islam is not criticized which will then make it popular to do so.

  26. Colin says:

    Hey guys, busy weekend.

    I will get back to you shortly.

    Regards,
    Colin

  27. Mark says:

    Today many Christians (and I suspect Colin) are out celebrating the day a man was brutally killed… to ‘pay’ for man’s sins… but to ‘pay’ who? God had to pay himself for the sins of man? And to me, it is just unjust and immoral to consider that someone can pay for my wrongdoings and actually make them go away. Paying for wrongdoings is one thing, but to make me not responsible for them is just something I can’t agree with.

    To consider that a mass murderer could believe in Jesus on the last day of his life and go to Heaven, but a good and honest person who just doesn’t buy into God’s crazy story will be rounded up and cast into everlasting fire in Hell where there is gnashing of teeth. This is immoral and wrong and not a religion that I am willing to sign up to.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  28. Eric Stubbs says:

    I think it is funny how theists try to argue under the presumption that god exists. I wonder if they realize how strange it is for normal people to even consider the Bible as anything more than toilet paper when it comes to its use as evidence towards anything.

  29. Too often atheists allow this to happen by not challenging these implicit assumptions. It makes no sense to debate the content of the Bible when it is no more than Aesop’s fables or Tales from the Brother’s Grimm. You can debate the literary merits (it has few), but proceeding with any debate which presumes that any of the significant events in the Bible happened as described is a waste of time.

  30. Stoobs says:

    The bible has great value to historians and anthropologists interested in the thinking that created our society. Some parts have some nice poetry, while others provide a shortlist of things not to do when living in a pre-agricultural desert tribe (e.g. don’t try to live on vulture meat, you’ll starve to death.)

    What the bible most emphatically does not contain is (a) a reasonable guide to how a person should live in a 21st century civilization, and (b) a factual description of the history of the Earth.

  31. Eric Stubbs says:

    And most parts of the bible should not be exposed to children…
    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=582156616448&oid=2346399275

  32. Colin says:

    Mark,

    I am neither surprised nor troubled by a guy in India making such claims. As you say, the videos are underwhelming. Even if he is performing miracles, that says nothing of the truth of Christianity.

    The miracle that really matters is the resurrection of Christ. If it really happened (if Jesus really was dead and really was raised from the dead physically), then we can be sure that it cannot be explained naturally.

    You mention the credulity of the witnesses as being evidence against the veracity of the claimed occurrences. It seems to me that it is quite easy to convince someone who wants to believe that an event happened that the event actually happened. It also seems to me that first-century Jews would be highly disinclined to believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead as their religion proscribed the resurrection of the dead.

    We agree that there is no verifiable evidence that people are normally conceived in virgins or that people naturally rise from the dead. In the case of Jesus, I do not think that these things happened naturally. I believe that these occurrences were miracles…supernatural events. I know that you disagree.

    As far as historical timing of Jesus’ birth and censuses (censi?) I do not have an answer for you. I will do some reading.

    Genealogies…

    The statements in Timothy and Titus state that people shouldn’t argue about these things, not that they should not be included in the scriptures.

    The differing genealogies are of different people. One is Jesus’ genealogy through Mary, the other through Joseph.

    From Matthew…

    “16and Jacob the father of Joseph, *the husband of Mary*, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

    From Luke…

    ” 23Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, *of Joseph*, ”

    The evidence is clear. Not only is it explicit in the text itself that the genealogies are of different people, but there is the simple fact that the genealogies themselves are different! Of course there is evidence, to say otherwise is silly.

    The contradictions that are listed on the website that you provided seem at first glance to be substantial. But if you take a look at them, you realize that none of are critical to the core message, that Jesus died and was raised from the dead. The gospel writers didn’t record minute details, they conveyed significant truths.

    As for the texts that are now the bible, as I said before, they have not been appreciably changed. There are plenty of references in the article I posted.

    For an academic debate on the historicity of the resurrection, check out this link to a debate between Bill Craig and Bart Ehrman…

    http://www.holycross.edu/departments/crec/website/resurrection-debate-transcript.pdf

    Regards,
    Colin

  33. Mark says:

    Colin,

    My point about a guy in India is that there have been countless miracle workers in history who have had a large number of believers and followers – yet you do not give their claims credit – you so easily discount their claims on such basic skepticsm that many have for Christianity.

    The Bible is so full of shit it isn’t funny. Outside of mythological stories of a very few authors of the Bible, there is no evidence for the Bible’s creation story, or mass exodus of people, no evidence for such bullshit as a worldwide flood, etc… and there is certainly no credible evidence that Jesus lived and certainly no evidence that he rose from the dead.

    Jesus’ traits of miracles, virgin birth, rising from the dead, and even his teachings were the same events and many of the same teachings of supposed spiritualists that came before him. He is nothing special… his message is not unique, his actions and events are not new ideas within mythological stories.

    You can have the last word again if you wish. I have no intention of replying to this thread again.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  34. Colin says:

    We disagree on the evidence…

    Regards
    Colin

  35. Colin,

    You persist in calling the Bible evidence when it simply doesn’t hold up against any standard of historical documents. The kind of evidence we have for the existence of Greek and Roman figures is very solid, comes from the time they actually lived and is cross referenced extensively. Plus, writings depict events for which there is actual archaeological evidence.

    The significant events of the Bible are either not supported by evidence or are directly contradicted by the evidence. There is no evidence that 2-3 million people wandered in a desert for 40 years, yet that same desert yields evidence of groups of a few hundred people who lived there during the time in question. There is no evidence of a mass migration into Israel, ever.

    The new testament fares worse than the old.

    We don’t disagree on the evidence, what we disagree on is the need for evidence. You seem to suggest that wishful thinking is more than enough to prove your case. It’s not.

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